SINGAPORE - The Government will focus on integrating persons with disabilities into the workforce and helping caregivers under its third Enabling Masterplan - a five-year national plan for supporting the group.
While the two previous plans focused on increasing support in a range of areas like early intervention and education, employment, care services, assistive technologies and accessibility, the new plan will take a three-pronged approach towards taking care of the disabled: Employment support, caregiver support and an increase of spending on initiatives to support those with disabilities.
All in, the Government will spend about $400 million per year on initiatives supporting people with disabilities, and an additional $160 million in the next five years on mental health issues, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in his Budget on Monday (Feb 20).
Currently, higher-functioning graduands from Special Education schools are matched to special training programmes as part of job preparation.
Under the additional employment support, these training programmes will be made available not only to those with mild intellectual disability and autism, but also those with moderate intellectual and multiple disabilities.
In terms of caregiver support, a Disability Caregiver Support Centre will be set up to support caregivers.
The centre will provide information, planned respite, training and peer support groups, and work with Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) to pilot programmes for caregivers of newly diagnosed people with disabilities.
Another group the Government is focusing on in its Budget this year is those with mental health conditions.
Mental healthcare services will be provided in polyclinics, and VWOs will be tapped on to set up more community-based teams to help those in need, as well as increase public education on mental health issues.
The number of Dementia Friendly Communities will be increased, with the National Council for Social Services leading efforts to integrate those with mental health issues into the workplace and in society.
To help tie the community together further, more than $50 million has been set aside to support community sports, with a planned expansion of the Sports-In-Precinct Programme that allows Singaporeans to play sports near their homes.
The SportCares Programme, which encourages disadvantaged young people to discover their strengths through sports, will also be expanded.
An additional $50 million in grants will also be committed over five years, to help aspiring athletes.
Another $50 million will be provided to match sports donations dollar-for-dollar.
The Cultural Matching Fund, which currently provides dollar-for-dollar matching for donations to cultural institutions, will be topped up by $150 million.